If you made a positive change to your finances in 2013, give yourself a pat on the back! Maybe you finally bought term life insurance, started an emergency fund, increased your contributions to your 401(k) or Roth IRA, or paid off your credit card debt. Oftentimes, when we think about revamping our finances, we focus on trimming expenses. Cutting your costs and contributing the savings to your investments is a great way to get ahead and start building wealth, but paring down your expenses will only get you so far. Think of it as step one.
Making more money is step two. That's easier said than done, but I promise that you can increase your income with a bit of time, a willingness to put in some extra work, and a whole lotta hustle. Here are a few ways you can earn more in 2014:
1. Boost Your Current Paycheck
If you have a job, here's a goal to work toward in the new year: Earn yourself a raise. In order to give yourself the best chance of scoring a healthy boost to your paycheck, be proactive. Ask to take on new responsibilities at the office. Take pride in all the tasks you're asked to complete, and show initiative and drive. You don't have to kiss any rear ends, but you should have a positive attitude and a demeanor that is, in general, friendly and content. (In other words, try not to mope and sulk around your workplace). When it comes time to negotiate, put these tips from Kiplinger into action and claim a bigger paycheck.
2. Rent Out Your Extra Space
Not all of us can tolerate having a roommate 24/7, but how about for a couple days out of the month? Consider signing up with AirBnB and renting out your spare room for a night or two (or maybe a week at a time) to people traveling through your area. This is a great way not only to earn extra money but also to meet some cool new people from around the world.
Of course, if you have enough space for a roommate and don't mind living with someone else, renting out a room on a more long-term or permanent basis is a smart idea, too.
3. Sell Your Stuff
Americans, in general, have a ton of stuff, most of which we're not using on a regular basis. Unless you're a minimalist, you likely have quite a few items lying around the house that you don't really need. Consider sorting through the clutter and listing unwanted or unneeded items on eBay or Craigslist. You know what they say: One man's trash is another man's treasure! This is a great way to earn a bit of extra money and declutter your living space, all at the same time. The popular personal finance blog Man Vs. Debt even has a course called Sell Your Crap that can help you with this process.
Once you get the hang of selling your own items online, you could turn the skill into something more sustainable. Some folks comb through their local Goodwill and other thrift shops for high-quality items that they can purchase and then resell for a profit online. Others collect unwanted and old furniture to refurbish. If you find you have a knack for it, it's a good way to earn yourself a little extra every month.
4. Start up a Side Hustle
Picking up additional work is an obvious way to earn more in 2014, whether it's a part-time job at a local restaurant or a side gig that puts your skills to work as a freelancer. Think about your skill set: Can you write and become a freelancer? Do you enjoy teaching and have a few hours a week that you could devote to tutoring? Are you an animal lover who would have fun dog-walking or pet-sitting?
You can easily earn an extra couple hundred bucks a month with any of these gigs. The best part about a side hustle is that you can usually do it on your own schedule. (Obviously, working a part-time retail job won't allow the same sort of freedom.) So consider the skills you have, hang out your shingle online (or perhaps in your neighborhood if you're house-sitting or nannying), and tell everyone you know about your new venture. Word-of-mouth marketing does wonders, as do free tools like social media platforms.
So what should you do with the extra cash you earn? Build financial security. By that, I mean build up emergency savings, pay down debt, and get on track for retirement. It's not glamorous, but organizing your financial life can help alleviate your money worries, and it puts you one step closer toward achieving your financial goals.